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Organic Trade Association welcomes federal credit-guarantee for organic farmers in Canada

May 1, 2009

Organic Trade Association welcomes federal credit-guarantee for organic farmers in Canada

Sackville, NB (May 1, 2009) — The Organic Trade Association (OTA) in Canada welcomes new federal commitments to provide Canadian farmers and farmer-owned businesses with access to essential government-backed loans.

The announcement was made today in Edgeley, Saskatchewan by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz. The newly expanded federal program will be available to new farmers, current farmers and farmer cooperatives, and will provide up to $1 billion in new loans.

"Canada′s organic sector is seeing tremendous growth right now," said Matthew Holmes, managing director of OTA in Canada. "What you need when you′re expanding your business this quickly is access to capital and access to reliable credit. The new federal program will be welcomed by Canada′s organic farmers."

OTA members agree:

Duane Phillippi, general manager at Farmer Direct Cooperative, was optimistic: "Farmer cooperatives make a significant contribution to the social fabric and economic prosperity of Saskatchewan and Canada. Because coops measure their success on factors beyond profit, we often do not meet many banks' lending requirements. Coops want to see an impressive triple bottom line, environmental, social and financial, and we welcome any government-backed loan programme that can help the coop sector thrive."

"In these challenging economic times, support from the government is always welcome, particularly for farmers, who are the lifeblood of Canada′s food industry" said Mike Fata, co-founder and president of Manitoba Harvest, a farmer-owned vertically integrated hemp food and oil manufacturer.

Canada′s organic sector is readying for new regulations that come into force on June 30. The Organic Products Regulations will ensure organic labelling on food products will be enforced and overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, aligning Canada with its major trading partners and providing consumers with greater confidence in this rapidly expanding market. Canada′s organic food market is conservatively estimated at close to $2 billion (Canadian) in annual sales and has seen more than 20% annual growth for the last number of years.

Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, with affiliate offices in Canada and the United States. Its 1,700 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

For more information contact:
Matthew Holmes
Managing Director
Organic Trade Association in Canada
Phone: 613 482-1717
Cell: 506-260-7537

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